Last weekend we cleaned off our kitchen table, which has become my desk during the day, broke in our new multi-colored chairs, and held our first dinner party in our “new” apartment, where we’ve lived since July.
We had friends visiting from Long Island, so this seemed like as good a time as any to start entertaining. I had recently seen an episode of Dave Lieberman’s show where he made Asian-inspired takeout like vegetable potstickers and chicken with a thick and spicy yogurt sauce, so I decided this would be our menu.
I don’t have a picture of the vegetable potstickers. Making them requires quick work and concentration, so much so that I completely forgot about photography. But I can tell you about the process.
You start by stuffing wonton wrappers with a cooked cabbage, carrot, and leek filling. Then bring the ends of each wrapper together to form a pyramid, which is actually very fun to do, like folding origami. Carefully lay the pretty potstickers in a very hot pan so the bottoms can get crispy brown. This only takes a minute. Then add water to the pan causing steam to billow everywhere, and quickly cover it so the potstickers can cook. Serve with a soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar dipping sauce. Here’s the recipe.
I did, however, remember to take a picture of our Indian-spiced chicken. With warm spices like curry, coriander, and cardamom plus a healthy coating of full-fat yogurt and half-and-half, this was one heavy dish. A little too heavy, I thought, even though I cut down on the half-and-half.
But you know what made it better? A night in the refrigerator (the flavors blended and the sauce thickened), and lots of fresh, bright ingredients as garnishes. Try topping the chicken with a squirt of lemon juice (a generous squirt – you won’t be sorry), toasted, slivered almonds for crunch (toasting them makes all the difference), a green herb like cilantro, and, to add some bite, a few chopped scallions.
Tofu can be substituted for the chicken too. We made both versions, and although the chicken added more flavor to the dish, the tofu, which soaked up the spicy yogurt sauce nicely, was quite good too.
Indian-inspired Chicken or Tofu with Lemon, Toasted Almonds, Cilantro, and Scallions
Adapted from Dave Lieberman
About 1 ½ pounds chicken breast or 1 block tofu
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
4 large cloves garlic
8 cardamom pods, cracked open
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ cups half-and-half
½ cup water
Lemon juice, toasted slivered almonds, cilantro, and scallions for garnish
Cut the chicken or tofu into bite-sized pieces. Stir together the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cardamom, curry powder, coriander, smoked paprika, honey, salt, and pepper. Toss the chicken or tofu in the thick sauce and refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour or as long as overnight. Bring the mixture to room temperature again before cooking.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Stir in the tomato paste until the onions are evenly coated with it, then pour in the half-and-half and water. Carefully add the chicken or tofu and sauce, stir, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. You want the mixture to retain a steady simmer. Cook the chicken for 15 minutes or until it is no longer pink inside, or the tofu until it is heated through. Serve with a generous squirt of lemon juice, toasted slivered almonds, chopped cilantro and scallions, and your favorite rice.
Do you have a favorite dinner party dish? Tell us what it is and why you like it so much.